With the regional peace effort for Somalia at an impasse because of differences on how to proceed with national reconciliation, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appealed for all sides to not allow that divergence of opinion to get in the way of reaching a settlement.
“Such differences will only complicate the already difficult task of peacemaking by encouraging contending Somali groups and leaders to adopt inflexible positions on national reconciliation so as to safeguard their interests and weaken the influence of those Somalis who want an end to violence and the restoration of peace in the country,” the Secretary-General says in a new report to the Security Council released today at UN Headquarters.
Noting that a national reconciliation conference for Somalia originally scheduled for April was not held, Mr. Annan says that the environment of apparent suspicion, both among regional countries and inside Somalia, needed to be defused urgently if a productive conference was to take place.
“Consensus and coherence among the frontline States of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is essential for the IGAD effort in support of national reconciliation in Somalia to succeed,” he observes. “It is also clear that the IGAD frontline States and other neighbouring countries, as well as donors, must use their influence to encourage the Somali parties to take positive and reconciliatory steps towards establishing peace and security in their country.”
Meanwhile, the country has witnessed an escalation of violence in recent months, costing many civilian lives and resulting in a worsening of the humanitarian crisis, the Secretary-General writes. In urging Somali leaders to refrain from military action and violence and to make every effort to participate constructively in the peace process, he says: “It is the duty of leaders to lead, not to pursue narrow partisan advantage.”